The Red Sea Diving Resort movie review: Chris Evans sinks to career low with distressingly drab Netflix film
The Red Sea Diving Resort
Director - Gideon Raff
Cast - Chris Evans, Michael K Williams, Haley Bennett, Michiel Huisman, Greg Kinnear, Ben Kingsley
Rating - 1.5/5
Captain America star Chris Evans swaps the Star-Spangled Banner for the Star of David in The Red Sea Diving Resort, a new Netflix film, based on an incredible true story that is given a disappointingly plain portrayal by director Gideon Raff.
The Israeli filmmaker, best known for having created the series Prisoners of War, remade in the US as Homeland and in India as POW, directs The Red Sea Diving Resort as a television pilot, with very little cinematic flair. The problems can be traced to his rather rudimentary script, which seems to have been restrained within self-imposed boundaries, instead of taking full advantage of the largely unrestricted possibilities of streaming.
This is quite ironic, considering that it tells a story about entrapment, and the desire to escape.
Watch the Red Sea Diving Resort trailer here
Evans plays a Mossad agent named Ari Levinson, who, struck by the plight of the Ethiopian Jews - a minority being systematically erased by a totalitarian regime - decides to help smuggle them into Israel. To do this, Levinson compels his boss, played by a dazed Ben Kingsley, to sanction a plan of such audacity, that it must have been true.
Together with team of charismatic young men and women, whom he recruits in an uncomfortably upbeat montage, Levinson manages to convince the Israeli government to lease an abandoned beach resort in Sudan (a country desperate to reignite its tourism industry) as a front for his mission.
Once stationed at the resort, Levinson coordinates multiple rescue operations, successfully transporting his poor cousins across the Red Sea, and towards the Promised Land. Evans is effectively playing Moses; the Steve Rogers beard certainly helps. But despite his worthiness, the film gives off an unmistakable whiff of the White Saviour trope.
It is a story that required a nimble approach, one that could subtly side-step the prickly politics. But Raff, despite his noble intentions, paints his film, ever so lightly, with the brush of propaganda.
Intentions aside, I found the nationalistic tone of the film to be fundamentally concerning. This is assuming, of course, that people other than the Jews were also being persecuted by the Ethiopian government. In which case, the selective rescue of only one section of the populace makes no sense. To put matters into perspective, imagine if in today’s cultural climate, Bollywood were to make a film about a team of Hindu saviours, whose mission was to extract their religious cohorts from a Muslim nation that was being ironically secular in its cruelty towards its people.
Better yet, imagine if a bunch of Muslim heroes invaded our shores with the express purpose of taking every one of their brothers and sisters they could lay their hands on, back to an Islamic nation. I mention Muslim nation because The Red Sea Diving Resort makes it a point to highlight religion, specifically Islam. In doing so, it robs its heroes of any sort of human decency, and turns them instead into cogs in a political machine.
I’ve had similar realisations about Steven Spielberg’s infinitely better made, but just as problematic film, Munich, in which a bunch of dudes carries out several extrajudicial killings in the name of religion.
Unfairly, the brunt of the burden lands on the shoulders of Evans, who quite obviously filmed this during downtime between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. On several occasions, scenes open with Evans performing some sort of strenuous exercise, almost as if he were contractually obligated by Marvel to maintain a certain physical standard; and in a state of panic/deference, he convinced Raff to write the cardio into the scenes.
And if you think the sight of Evans incessantly working out seems a bit odd, considering the very real stakes of the story, then wait till the film stumbles into its second act, which Raff directs like a screwball comedy, complete with a dance montage and late night bonfires.
The Red Sea Diving Resort could perhaps fool a few unsuspecting folks into believing that it’ll be like Argo - it certainly got me - but thanks to a hackneyed screenplay and flat filmmaking, it pales in comparison even to Akshay Kumar’s Airlift.
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